A resolute Malaga performance was not enough to spoil the party as Atlético Madrid ran out 1-0 winners in their first game at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Saturday night.
Almost 65,000 people, including King Felipe VI, packed into the new ground hours before kickoff and they couldn’t be blamed for thinking it was something of an anticlimax when the game finally got under way.
Malaga, whose boss Míchel resisted the temptation of playing with five at the back, gave a debut to Esteban Rolón in midfield while fellow newcomer, the similarly named Diego Rolán, started on the bench.
As expected, the hosts had the lion’s share of possession, but Malaga’s organisation in midfield proved hard to overcome. In fact, it was the visitors who had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes with Borja Bastón wriggling himself into space in the inside left position, only for Jan Oblak to palm his effort away. Recio, who passed a late fitness test, followed up with a fierce drive but Oblak was on hand to save again.
Ángel Correa had a half chance on the edge of the box before the break, but sent it straight down the middle of the goal and it was easy for Roberto to save.
Atlético head coach Diego Simeone responded in the second half, throwing on Yannick Carrasco to inject some attacking thrust into his side who seemed somewhat overawed by the occasion.
This change paid off and they were soon rewarded when Antoine Griezmann swept home the opener at the near post from a delightful right-wing cross from Correa.
It was a clever finish from the bookies’ favourite to open the scoring at the new stadium.
Malaga, who had contained their opponent so well up until that point, had to respond and did so by abandoning their defensive 4-5-1 system and bringing on Juanpi and Rolán in attacking areas, the latter forcing Oblak into an acrobatic save in stoppage time to preserve the three points.
Not quite the perfect performance for the Colchoneros at their new home, but the three points thrusts them into the top three for the first time this season.
For Malaga, this was by far their best performance of the season so far, but that will be little consolation as they sit bottom of the table with zero points from four games.